Track is saved

Celebrations at William Parker sports track
Celebrations at William Parker sports track

THE FUTURE of the borough’s only athletics track has been secured after the county council and its partners pledged £77,000 to save it.

In a dramatic turnaround, the authority has offered major funding for the worn out facility at William Parker Sports College just months after stating

it had spent enough.

Hastings Borough Council has also allotted £12,000 in funding and £5,000 a year for the track maintenance fund.

More than 4,000 people joined The Observer’s campaign to save the track and signed coupons to show their support.

Days after the London Olympics closed last August, we told how there was no signs of any legacy to be found in Hastings.

The track faced closure after years of wear and tear had taken their toll on the synthetic surface.

The Track Management Committee had no funds to replace the track and the county council stated it had already “paid over and above its own financial


Hastings Athletics Club members faced being forced to travel 20 miles out of town to use a running track.

Little Hannah Blomfield, a nine-year-old member of the club, wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron making a heartfelt plea to help save the track.

Jean Wild, widow of club legend and former coach Reg Wild, spent weeks helping to collect coupons.

Opened by Dame Kelly Holmes in 1997, the track was the first in the UK to be opened after receiving funding from the National Lottery.

East Sussex County Council, Hastings Borough Council, UK Athletics, William Parker, Sport England and the Athletics Club all signed a 21 year agreement to

maintain and make it sustainable for the use of the community.

But it only had a 10 year life expectancy.

A new chairman of the Track Committee was appointed in September.

Clive Galbraith, who is chairman of Green Insurance Group, has worked tirelessly to secure funding for the track and raise its profile.

Mr Galbraith said: “Without this funding the track would have faced the possibility of closure.

“We are extremely grateful to ESCC and Hastings Borough Council in particular for their support.

“We are making great progress with a supporting business plan which will be set in place to enable the long term security of the facility.

“We are also very grateful to the Observer for highlighting the issues surrounding the track and in keeping it in the public domain.

“The Observer campaign attracted more than 4,000 signatories and this support has been invaluable in our campaign to keep the facility as a site

for both curriculum and wider community use.”

Paul Smith, spokesman for the county council, said: “There is a Community Use Project Agreement (Joint Use Agreement) in place dated 1997 for a 21 year

period between East Sussex county Council, the Governing Body of William Parker school, Hastings Borough Council, Hastings Athletic Club and the English

Sports Council (Sport England).

“The project was to enable the installation of an athletics track funded in the main part by a Sport England grant.

“It’s aims and objectives are for the delivery of sport for both curriculum and community use.

“There was an original phase two project to enable the installation of lavatory and changing facilities, funding was limited and the second phase did not

progress. This has limited the long term potential use and wider development of the track.

“The original track surface had a 10 year life expectancy which has been exceeded.

“The current works include the repair, re-spray and relining of the athletic track along with repair to the hammer cage at an estimated cost of £77K.

This will restore the track to its original state and will result in an additional 10 year life expectancy.”

Work is expected to start in August to resurface the track.

Athletics club chairman Digger Brodrick said: “This is fantastic news for us and the town. We are absolutely delighted.”